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Analysis Spreadsheets?

Discussion in 'Financial Planning' started by canberraplanner, 17th Mar, 2012.

  1. canberraplanner

    canberraplanner Member

    Joined:
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    Posts:
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    Canberra
    Good Day All,

    I am a financial planner starting out in this wonderful industry - armed with ambition, a licence, an MBA in financial planning and no current clients. My day job currently pays the bills as an immediate career change would result in an unacceptable salary drop (for now).

    For more information on my background please refer to this thread:

    http://www.invested.com.au/105/starting-out-solo-planner-39196/

    For now, can anyone recommend good spreadsheets for financial planning - in particular superannuation? I am not sure why I would want to purchase access to a platform such as XPlan (granted I have never seen it, only heard of it and been offered access through module fees) when I already posses an extremely powerful calculation and graphing tool called Microsoft Excel 2010, with the added bonus that I can eventually integrate this with all my other Office 2010 tools.

    Can anyone make any recommendations?

    The closest I have found so far is Speedsheets SpeedSheets.com.au :: Excel Spreadsheets & Worksheet Templates - Free Trial. While the price seems reasonable, the trial has left me feeling very unimpressed as I can not locate a functional superannuation project spreadsheet in my installed trial (wouldn't this be a core function of financial planning??). The trial spreadsheets are also all horribly out of date which does not bode well.

    So I will continue looking.

    Thank you in advance for your kind help, I assure you that your time is appreciated and gratefully recieved.
     
  2. Andrew Newman

    Andrew Newman Well-Known Member

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    Hi canberraplanner

    I had quick scan of SpeedSheets.com.au and wasn't impressed.

    There are many calculators available for free through fund manager and super fund websites.

    For example, MLC has some great calculators, although some may require a login to gain access. https://www.mlc.com.au/mlc/im_considering_mlc/adviser/resource_centre/tools_and_calculators

    Also check out the MoneySmart website which is run by ASIC: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-tools

    Personally, I don't use any software such as Xplan but prefer to use MS Excel.

    PS. I wish you all the success with your new career path.

    Kind Regards
     
  3. canberraplanner

    canberraplanner Member

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    Thank you Andrew. It's a challenge to start any new business in a new field but I'm sure I'll get there. I'll look at threads on finding clients.

    I agree that spreadsheets are preferably - Excel 2010 is such an incredibly powerful too - I really do not understand why anything else could be required in financial modelling?

    The MLC online calculators look great, thank you for the link.

    Where do you find your spreadsheets? I could try building them myself but I'm sure someone else has already done this.

    Where do you get your spreadsheets? Or do you make your own?
     
  4. Andrew Newman

    Andrew Newman Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I make up my own spreadsheets such as a super savings calculator and insurance calculator which are specific to my business.

    Cheers
     
  5. canberraplanner

    canberraplanner Member

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    May I ask how long it took you to construct those spreadsheets? Biggest problem for me right now is that I still hold a full time day job until this takes off at some point in the future. I can work well in spreadsheets but a day or two of effort hours could equate to a week or two in calendar time. Quite a hit to take hence hoping I could locate some spreadsheets somewhere.

    I did give Deakin University $25k or so for my FP MBA so maybe I could ask them.
     
  6. Andrew Newman

    Andrew Newman Well-Known Member

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    Most spreadsheets didn't take long to set up but the question to ask yourself is what do you need the spreadsheets to achieve for your business model? For example, if you don't intend to offer insurance advice, an insurance spreadsheet will not be needed.

    If you are only starting out, consider focusing on preparing and implementing a business plan which looks at your target market, the services you will provide, how you will market your services, what you will charge and so on.

    Can I ask if you have worked in the financial planning industry?

    Cheers
     
  7. canberraplanner

    canberraplanner Member

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    Hi Andrew thank you again for replying.

    I am very new to the industry - my background is here

    http://www.invested.com.au/105/starting-out-solo-planner-39196/

    My day job is full time IT project management so in an unrelated by somewhat beneficial field for various reasons (budgeting, forecasting, learn to be sceptical etc).

    More thinking for superannuation in particular as that is so complex, and I really want a spreadsheet I have either made myself so I know it inside out or can view it and ensure it's well constructed and considers all assumptions like inflation and so forth. There are some great online free tools out there but I guess this is the PM in me, I like to see how things work and see for myself before I would trust it with someone's financial life.

    I know what services I intend to provide if I am allowed to - rather than full comprehensive advice - I don't want to get in to investing advice as I can not realistically compete in such a dynamic full time research heavy field - yet. So being superannuation and insurance mostly - as I also see a strong market need for this type of advice - as well as estate planning although I would consider outsourcing / referring that as that requires specialised legal training and experience. I am clear on my strengths, areas for development, and no-go areas - the latter being offering legal or up to the minute investment advice (like a stock broker).

    Where I can compete is with networks and relationships - I have strong networks in my target markets that I have been building patiently for many years, and work in an industry that is chronically under-serviced and well remunerated generally. Many are on high but contract wages with families. That's a big risk area as few in my full time field have the time to really dig deep in to their financial situation even if they are financially literate and capable enough.

    As for how I'll charge, this is the unavoidable tricky question. I would consider openly declared insurance commissions, or a flat fee for service to consolidate then advice, and possibly referral fees to say a trusted legal advisor on estate planning.

    You are right that I really need to put more thought in to my business model though. Thank you for prompting me.

    Now as for the spreadsheet, I am tempted to just construct one myself and upload it for free viewing under something like an open source / creative commons licence so others are free to add to it, but not charge a fee for it. I suspect the collective wisdom of the FP community could pull something pretty good together.

    I have only fee based found locked down spreadsheets so far, and I am not entirely impressed or trusting of their calculations without being able to dig in to them. I really need to see things for myself.
     
  8. Andrew Newman

    Andrew Newman Well-Known Member

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    I understand where you are coming from in terms of trusting the calculations. I believe spreadsheets should be simple. For example, projections into the future are difficult as shown by the share market over the past few years.

    Interesting idea but most financial advisers are not too handy with spreadsheets.

    Also, you may want to take a look at Plansoft-Australian Tax and Financial Planning Software

    Cheers
     
  9. canberraplanner

    canberraplanner Member

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    Thank you for the link I am checking it out now.

    Curious that most financial planners are 'not handy with a spreadsheet' - I thought with numbers being their core business? I could not live without a spreadsheet, in fact I live in them.

    So most financial planners don't actually do any calculating themselves and rely on commercial software?

    As for being difficult to project in to the future, I assume one just needs to be careful and thorough with listing their assumptions - e.g. based on historical returns over X years and so on, or that China keeps buying all our coal and iron (now that's a big assumption few seem to pay much attention to!).

    BTW - I checked the website - http://www.plansoft.com.au/Products/FinancialPlanner/FinancialPlanner.aspx

    $1300 per year for the package. It's probably fantastic but starting out I'm not sure I can take on that much overhead just yet, and also while I have a very powerful calculation engine sitting right here (high spec PC with Excel 2010).

    I'm tempted to either:

    1) Start writing a spreadsheet myself and release it to the public for open development - I might be able to do this with Microsoft SkyDrive on a case by case access grant (to minimise malware risk);
    2) Offshore to an Indian spread sheet guru who could produce a mother of a spread sheet annually. I'd have to check the fees but I'd imagine $1000 at current exchange rates might get me a good level of developer support.

    But taking on $1300 of overhead right now could be a bit much while I'm starting out.

    As I grow though, I may find I need to delegate tasks such as this to handle the volume but I think that's quite a way off yet - I'm really only at the starting line with an MBA and a licence and no clients yet.

    -- Edit --

    Following a conversation with my equity partner (my wife) and my dealer group head, I have re-considered my initial observation. I need to ensure I remain focussed on task which is finding clients and building revenue. Building spread sheets is not an immediate priority and maybe I should just take the financial hit.

    So I will contact Plansoft and start getting some comparisons with various products and talk to someone in the know about what they use.

    There will always be a part of me that wants to trust what I am putting out, but I need to remain focussed.

    I still think there is a tremendous need for spread sheets and maybe this would be a good traffic driver to my website if I can get a few running and give them away. Some do already, but they're pretty basic to be honest, and locked down, and I can just leave mine open.

    Maybe not an immediate priority though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 20th Mar, 2012